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introduction Edit

This Building was designed as a community center for tsunami affected community of Thalalla, Mathara in Southern Sri Lanka. Located in a Buddhist temple premises the community center was donated by an international humanitarian organization international federation of red cross and red crescent societies(IFRCS) as a token of gratitude towards the chief monk of the temple who helped Tsunami effected communities of Thalalla, Mathara in Southern Sri Lanka by providing food and lodging in the difficult days after the 2004 boxing day Tsunami. This Community center was conceived as a cost effective building due to budget constraints, with flexibility for future expansion in terms leaving provisions to install a mezzanine timber deck later in the ample double height volume available in the cathedral like height of the community center.

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cultural and social context Edit

As the community center was located in a temple it was decided to raise the building above ground in the ancient Buddhist temple building tradition of 'tem pita viharas' (building on pillars) so that it will be accessible during a possible flood or a worst case scenario Tsunami. Chief Monk of the temple was initially reluctant to donate temple land for a single story building, due to scarcity of vacant temple land. To solve the problem, the architects had to come up with a design proposal where a future expansion in terms of a timber deck mezzanine floor can be carried out at a later stage, after completion of the construction of the community center as a first phase. Thus the solution is a cathedral like double height volume with its 45 degree steeply sloping roof, leaving ample space for a future expansion.

Facilities in the community center include a reading room, a library, male and female toilets and a common hall for meetings. It serves as Buddhist religious school on Sundays in addition to being a preaching hall on Buddhist religious full moon 'Paya' holidays. With the above multi-purposes use of the community center, the building was expected to serve wider variety of public in various ways in this region of Tsunami hit Southern Sri Lanka.

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materials and building techniques Edit

The raised floor of the community center was made of a suspended concrete slab (precast), laid on in-situ cast reinforced concrete column and beam structural skeleton. Due to budget constraints, brickwork walls were left exposed without plaster; concrete columns and beams including roof beams were left raw concrete to increase the textured tactile quality of the community center. Roof was also left ceiling-less as a value engineering exercise, letting the possibility for the roof to 'breath'. The steeply sloping roof was constructed out of exposed colored timber rafters in a clay tiled roof cover.

As a counterpoint to the otherwise somber surroundings, splashes of color were introduced by way of cheerfully colored doors to the interior of the building. Two four feet tall trianfular hanging lights were fixed to the roof ridge beam of the main multi-purpose hall, designed in the tradition of 'vesak lanterns' with a white cloth cover emitting a soothing light emanating from the 4 feet tall fluorescent light, to brighten the double height hall.

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Project details
Project name: IFRC community center
Description: Community center for the villagers affected by tsunami.
Category: meeting place
Design: Chinthaka Wickramage
Consultants: Structural Engineer: Keerthi Rathnayake / Quantity Surveyour: Sunanda Gnanasiri / Supervisor: Janaka Jayaratne / Contractors: Akre Corporation
Building status: in use
Construction period: June 2009 - August 2011
Location: Thalalla, Sri Lanka
Coordinates: 5°56'53.4'' N, 80°37'38.3'' E
Tags: bricks, low budget, development cooperation, disaster
Project ID: 185
Published: 21 December 2011
Last updated: 12 November 2012
(images have individual licenses)
CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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